Bonnie Fiala passes away at 82

DOWNEY — Bonnie K. Fiala, a longtime educator and civic leader, died July 12, just 22 days shy of her 83rd birthday.


Bonnie was born Aug. 4, 1936, in Fargo, North Dakota, one of 12 children to her parents Eugene and Claire Kieffer. She was raised on a farm in Casselton, North Dakota, and went to school in Casselton for 12 years. She spent one year at the convent in St. Benedict’s College in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and three years at North Dakota State University.

She wrote a book titled “Meatless Menus and Recipes for Use by Catholics During Lent.” That finished the credits needed to complete her four-year degree.

Bonnie also had a lifetime teaching credential in California for teaching home economics, foods, nutrition, family finance, chemistry, and stained glass. She taught Adult Education classes in seven different school districts in Los Angeles County.

Bonnie and Harvey dated in 1954 and married December 28, 1957. Harvey graduated in May of 1958 from NDSU and received a Master of Science Degree from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. Bonnie later received a furniture manufacturing degree from Cerritos College. Bonnie and Harvey both graduated from the Simmons Institute to complete a program of effective speech and human relations.

Bonnie had a part time teaching job and contributed 10% of her income to the Salesian Missions in order to help educate about a dozen boys all the way from high school to priesthood. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church was her parish for the last 54 years.

Bonnie made a lot of furniture for her home in Downey. The furniture included chairs and tables with stained glass tops, coffee tables, stained glass lamp shades and multiple windows.

Bonnie was active in the OLPH Guild for 40-plus years. She created seven or eight stained-glass windows for the OLPH Church and school, and stained-glass windows for homes and other churches. She was in the mixed choir for 10 years.

Bonnie was a member of the Ladies of Columbus, and her husband Harvey is a Fourth Degree Knight. Bonnie was an active member of TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) for over 50 years for which she received an award for being one of the longest participating members in the California region.

Bonnie, with her best friend Arlene Berry, had a clothing, design, and manufacturing company named Nicer Things by Bonnie-Arlene. It produced high quality dresses for women.

During her 56 years in Downey, Bonnie contributed significantly to the City of Downey and its community through her adult education classes and by teaching disabled persons at the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey. Through her family finance adult education classes, she enabled several of her students to be able to buy homes in Downey. She was a member of the John Birch Society for 61 years and was head of the Motorede Committee in Downey (Movement to Restore Decency) for younger people.

She is survived by her husband Harvey Fiala. Bonnie and Harvey were married for 62 years. Together they had ten children, five boys and five girls: John, Annette, Paul, Marie, James, Ruth, Peter, Andrew, Elizabeth, and Kathryn. Bonnie is also survived by five brothers: Ralph and Phillis Kieffer, Jim and Arlene Kieffer, Leo and Alexia Kieffer, Harold and Kathy Kieffer, and John Kieffer, and two sisters: Lillian and Michael Eberhardt and Marilyn and Gerald Barnes. She was predeceased by a child Bernadette, her sister Charlene Fyten, and brothers Donald Kieffer and Peter Kieffer.

Bonnie and Harvey’s children are: John and Patricia Fiala, Annette Fiala, Paul and Nga Fiala, Marie Amokrane Fiala, James and Wendy Fiala, Ruth Sanchez, Peter and Amy Fiala, Andrew and Karen Fiala, Elizabeth and Angel Lozano, and Kathryn and Steven Allison.

Funeral arrangements were with Miller Mies Mortuary in Downey. The Mass was at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church with entombment at the mausoleum at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach. The funeral reception was held at Knights of Columbus Hall in Downey.

ObituariesStaff Report